The Hotel Reservation: Setting the Tone for the Guest Experience
You Were Friendly During Booking, But Where Are You Now?
Setting the tone for the guest experience begins with the hotel reservation. You’ve got to stay somewhere if you’re traveling, even in advance of a flight or cruise.
What sets the tone for a trip better than being treated like royalty at a hotel? Let’s hope that is the experience because it can go wrong quickly.
I’m Sorry. Do I Know You?
Upon arrival, the representative at the desk is not expecting you. Where is the helpful rep that booked the reservation? You were friendly on the phone, but where are you now?
A blog by Christopher Elliott of the Elliott Advocacy advises a common-sense checklist before arrival, including the following:
- Call to confirm your visit
- Print your reservation or make sure it’s available on your phone
- Double-check your dates and location
If that fails, Elliott advises remaining calm and polite. Most importantly, stand your ground and ask to be “walked to another hotel.” “Walking” is an industry-known policy, usually resulting from over-booking a hotel.
Walking the Tightrope of a Good or Bad Experience
Standard practice for a reputable establishment is to pay for accommodations and travel costs to another hotel if they overbook. There is no legal obligation for them to provide alternative arrangements, but here is where “reputable” is defined and the guest experience put to the test.
“Most of these snafus happen with smaller independent hotels, and the odds of offering you a last-minute room are slight,” states Lisa M. Schaffer in a story on Findlaw.com.
Schaffer explains that you are contracting with the hotel itself and not the agency when making a reservation with a third party. “If you arrive at the hotel, and they claim they have no evidence of your reservation, there is no contract.”
You’ll know if a hotel has done it before by reading reviews. A disreputable organization has a difficult challenge hiding bad behavior in 2022. Setting the tone for the guest experience works in many ways.
Most travel authorities advise booking directly.
“Often, computer systems don’t match up,” said Michael Sheridan, assistant professor of tourism and hospitality management at Temple University, quoted in the Elliott blog.
He explained that the confirmation number from the third-party site used to book your stay might not match the reservation number issued by the hotel. If it’s a small hotel, it may have an antiquated system that has no record of your reservation.
An Opportunity to Step Up
Travel metasearch site, Trivago, recommends hotels begin communicating with guests as soon as they book. Send them email offers to upgrade, travel updates, photos, and local entertainment.
Most importantly, hotel management must care, and it is imperative to know from where customers are coming.
Max Starkov of Hospitalitynet.org assures that they are not coming from metasearch sites but every site. He cites an average of 45 touchpoints the average traveler hits before booking a hotel, including social media, phones, tablets, hotel websites, and customer reviews.
“This type of traveler planning behavior is not metasearch,” he says. “This is travel consumers shopping around like crazy!”
Book yourself a nice, reputable place to stay. Check the hotel’s website, get the address correct, call to confirm, and ask questions before you arrive. They might even have travel suggestions for you. That is setting the tone for the guest experience.